Courtesy of SavannahCEO  www.savannahceo.com 

 

Sugar Marsh Cottage in Darien, GA

Although he never visited the site, General James Oglethorpe planned the City of Darien, and gave it the distinction of being the second-oldest planned city in Georgia. He envisioned six squares in Darien; and adjacent to one of these squares sits what is possibly the sweetest-smelling house in all of Georgia.

Visiting Sugar Marsh for the first time, I was intrigued at how a former residence could be transformed into Coastal Georgia’s premier chocolatier. A right turn from the foyer leads visitors to the display room, where tables of product boxed for the season are simply begging to be purchased.

Mountains of dark, milk and white chocolate, as well as toffee, provide an intoxicating aroma, inviting visitors to try a sample (or more!). To the right of the door is a tray of Sugar Marsh’s signature item, seashell shortbread coquilles, and even more samples for visitors.

Sugar Marsh was founded in 2006 in Atlanta. Dale Potts and her husband had a second home in Darien, and always knew they wanted to eventually move the business there. This goal was visible even in the early days of the company as their products were in the shape of a seashell.  In 2010, their vision was realized as they were able to buy a house on one of the original squares.

Sugar Marsh was not intended to be a retail location as the Potts wanted to focus solely on wholesale trade. But during one of Downtown Darien’s First Saturdays, Sugar Marsh opened the doors, just to see what would happen. And customers came! Because of the success of the Saturday events, Dale quickly realized that there was a strong demand for locally-produced chocolates, and the decision to open a full-time retail operation was made.

The success of the retail operations at Sugar Marsh demonstrated the need to make it easier to order confections, so they recently revamped their entire website. Previously, customers had to download the order form, fill it out and email or fax it to Sugar Marsh. Although this worked, it didn’t allow for the flexibility of seasonal items or limited runs.

Now, users can view and order all of Sugar Marsh’s available delicious treats with the click of the mouse or tap of the finger. Dale hopes that the new features on the website will allow the company to expand well beyond the region and become a national commodity.

Dale states that the current mix of sales is 75 percent wholesale and 25 percent retail. Although the new website will help increase retail sales by making it even easier to order all of their sweet confections, Sugar Marsh continues to work with hotels and resorts to add their chocolates to nightly turndown service.

Sugar Marsh is also working to making a concerted effort to increase its local presence by offering same-day local delivery.

During the height of travel’s romantic period, turndown service was something that every hotel offered. But Dale explains, “Now very few hotels continue to spend money on turndown service, but it does leave a lasting impression.”

Sugar Marsh is also working to making a concerted effort to increase its local presence by offering same-day local delivery.

The accolades continue to be bestowed on Sugar Marsh, including:

  • 2017 Business Commitment to the Community Sugar Marsh Cottage for outstanding commitment & leadership from the Darien-McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce.
  • 2015 Darien-McIntosh Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year to Dale Potts-Sugar Marsh Cottage
  • 2010 Best of Atlanta first place award for Best Chocolate at the Atlanta Gourmet Market for Bittersweet Chocolate Coastal Collection. “Sugar Marsh Cottage expertly crafts a blend of semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolates which is then infused with fine bits of their Fleur de Sel Toffee lending a slight crunch to each bite.”
  • 2006 Best of Atlanta first place award for Best Packaging at the Atlanta Gourmet Market for The Island Box. “A spectacular gift box containing an impressive selection of Sugar Marsh Cottage confections,” and “the perfect corporate gift.”

“We love Darien,” Dale says. And we love Sugar Marsh!

Sugar Marsh now employees seven people and is eager to grow as the facility continues to have excess production capacity.

From the Georgia Department of Economic Development

 

Photo and ad Courtesy of www.savannahceo.com